is going to be a great year for movies. I’m confident of this. Since
we’re in this ride together I figured we’d get ready for the year in a
fun and exciting new way. First, over the course of the next fifteen
weekdays we’re going to highlight one mainstream film a day. Some of
them are slam dunks, some of them have a cloud of trouble floating
above them, but all represent a great way to spend a Friday night at
the movie theater even if it results in you ripping its ass thereafter.

of the things this site is built on is a love of movies. Some folks
think we’ve let some of that go by the wayside. I disagree, but
regardless, I want 2010 to be a year where this site restores some of
that wonder. Though the glass can never truly be half-full in a
business so driven by rehashes and hollow entertainment, we’re going to
have fun with it and prepare you guys with as many tools as possible to
make the moviegoing experience worth it. Especially as the internet
gets more and more bogged down with people who have no right serving as
an authority of film blabbering all over blogs and Twitter and beyond.

There’s a reason you come here.

Day Five

Shutter Island
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max Von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley
Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Based on the  book by Dennis Lehane

Full Disclosure
I am producing a movie with the producers (who also did Zodiac and the upcoming Black Swan) of this film. It’s called Simple Machines and it without a doubt the most singular and potentially visionary project I’m involved with. I had nothing to do with this, which is good because all I’d do is see Martin Scorsese walk on set and have to go pleasure myself.

The Gist
A twisty, dark, and mysterious mainstream thriller from Martin Scorsese? Sign me up! Dennis Lehane’s truthfully uneven book gets the glorious treatment. A patient has disappeared from the imposing mental facility known as Shutter Island and two investigators (DiCaprio & Ruffalo) arrive to figure out what went wrong. It goes weird.

This is a movie seeping in style and a chance for all involved parties to really have some fun with the period setting. Scorsese has done thrillers before but never anything like this. Folks who see the trailer for this and don’t realize that this isn’t some adaptation of a best-seller or some throwaway film for the first third of the year.

Make no mistake, this is an event film.

Participants to Watch
Mark Ruffalo has nothing to do to prove his ability to deliver great work or hold his own within great ensembles. An argument could be made that he’s oftentimes the best of the bunch. Shutter Island offers Ruffalo another chance to reach the eyes of the mainstream. He’s too good not to be one that balances his deeper, smaller films with big ones. This is a nice role for him, one where he shares screen time with one of the biggest of the A-listers.

Max Von Sydow has aged ten years in the past thirty and is as compelling and vital as he’s ever been. And unused. Seeing him feature in a big Scorsese movie makes me very wet and very warm.

Thelma Schoonmaker completes Martin Scorsese. Without her, he’s still brilliant but with her he’s the king of all things. Though she’ll never be a household name, they ought to consider naming the award for best editing in the Oscars the Schoonmaker Award.

The Buzz
Nearly everyone I know who has seen the film says it’s ravishing to watch and exceptional, despite the twisty stuff. Those who have read the book know what I speak of. It sounds as if it’s a really special movie whose only flaws lie in the source material.

Best Case
It challenges The Departed for the crown of highest-grossing Martin Scorsese film and holds its own until the Spring movies start to arrive. It defies its release date and provides true depth in the time of year where we’re often given the middling movies.

Worst Case
It doesn’t register with audiences who expect the raw real-world crime of his other adaptations (Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River) and are put off by the more trippy and bendy vision here. It doesn’t bust blocks.

CHUD’s Prognosis
It may not be huge but it’ll do well enough and it’ll be manna from heaven for those of us to whom a new Scorsese film equates to waking up on Christmas morning.

Useful links
Devin’s Review
Official Site
Many photos from the film, including many of the lovely John Carroll Lynch!

Not So Useful Lynx

Discuss this column here.

Monday: Ancient Badassery and Rockin’ Tunes.